Coffee is powerful stuff and has its own culture as well as a cult following. Nowadays, you have a lot of choices on how to enjoy your bean juice. You might be a purist, enjoying a hot brew Americano, black, or perhaps you enjoy a cold nitro brew on a warm day.
For those who are unsure of the differences between hot vs. cold brew coffee, we have created this guide to help you understand. So next time you walk into that local hipster joint, you don't feel so uneducated.
Hot Freshly Brewed Coffee - Why Is It So Popular?
Hot brew coffee is the OG of hot drinks, the master of all, the big kahuna.
People have been drinking hot brewed coffee for a long time now, and it has become an integral routine and ritual in the morning for a vast percentage of the planet.
For the majority of people, hot brew coffee is made with a coffee machine or by pouring water over instant coffee, which is roasted and dried out before use.
Some people may use a drip machine too, which drips boiling water over ground beans to create a stronger, more accurate flavor compared to instant coffee.
If you prefer a coffee with more body and a robust, rich flavor, then you will probably prefer hot brewed coffee over a cold brew.
Cold Brew Coffee - Why do People Like It?
Cold-brew coffee is made by steeping your coffee in room or cold-temperature water for an extended period of time. By doing this slowly, the flavor of the coffee change to a more mellow, low acidity taste that pairs well with chocolate and fruits.
Brewing the coffee this way changes the method of brewing from a heat-based one to a time-based one, sometimes taking up to 24 hours to brew depending on the desired taste profile.
Often, the cold brew coffee is then made into a concentrated mixture which can be watered down to preference. This is what makes most cold brew coffees stronger than their hot brew companions. In hot pour-over and drip coffees, the ratio of coffee is around about 1 to 16, coffee to water. In cold brew, the concentration can be a lot stronger, sometimes 1 to 8 or 1 to 9.
Cold brew coffee is particularly popular amongst those who dislike warm drinks and those that find regular coffee too bitter for their palate. Cold brewing the coffee reduced the bitterness by a large margin, making it more amenable and less sharp.
Cold Brew Vs. Hot Brew Coffee (Differences Compared)
So you may have heard of, or in fact, drank both hot and cold brew coffee, but what is the difference?
Brewing Time & Production Process
The first main difference between the two processes is the brewing time. To create cold brew coffee, you have to leave the beans steeped in water for between 8-24 hours, depending on what taste you are seeking. This is then made into a concentration that can be watered down.
Hot brew coffee is much simpler, you add hot water to ground beans or instant coffee, and your drink is made instantly. This is because the beans have been roasted beforehand and prepared.
Caffeine Content (Strength)
The strength of your coffee in terms of caffeine will depend entirely upon the beans used and the number of beans used. Neither method will make a stronger coffee if the same amount of beans.
Cold-brewed coffee usually requires up to 3x as many beans as hot brew, so it is usually stronger.
Coffee Taste and Drinking Flavor
In terms of the drinking flavor and taste, hot brewed coffee is definitely more flavorful. This is due to the hot water extraction of the aroma, which happens very quickly in hot brewed coffee. With cold brew coffee, you have a long extraction time and a cooler temperature which leads to a much milder flavor profile with less acidity and bitterness.
If you are seeking more refined taste profiles, cold brew extracts the natural flavors from the beans a lot better. However, if you want those really elusive flavors like cherry and strawberry to shine through, you will want to use cold brew.
If you love the intense bitterness and strong flavor profile of, say, an espresso, you will want to stick to hot brew coffee as it is much stronger in intensity.
Coffee Grind Size
Creating cold brew coffee requires you to use a very coarse grind size on your beans. The coarser the grind, the longer the brew time. During the brewing, you want as little area as possible exposed during the steeping process. This helps extract those more delicate flavors.
For hot brew, most people prefer to stick around a medium grind as this is what is used by the majority of coffee shops and cafes to create the traditional coffees most of us drink every day.
Too fine a grind and the drip through will happen too fast, creating a coffee that is too thick for most people to enjoy.
Water Temperature Needed
Obviously, the most significant difference between these two brewing methods is the temperature that you use to achieve them.
When you are making hot brewed coffee, you are going to want to use a water temperature of about 195F. Make sure the water is not boiling, or you may ruin the taste. This temperature allows for the best extraction of aroma and flavors forms the beans.
When it comes to making cold brew coffee, you want the temperature to be as low as possible without losing flavor. The sweet spot for that is between 50-59F. If you go higher or lower than this, you might ruin the flavor or make a very weak tasting cold brew,
Negative Health Aspects
There are numerous studies on caffeine and coffee, and the consensus is that in moderation, coffee can be healthy for us in numerous ways.
The main problems come from overdrinking and overcaffeinated. As with everything, moderation is key, and if you limit your caffeine to one or two cups early in the day, you won't face problems like insomnia that can be caused by too much caffeine.
Unfortunately, due to the color and the acidic content of coffee, it can be quite bad for your teeth if you don't monitor how much you drink or if you add a lot of sugar to your drinks. Cold-brewed coffee is better than hot brewed coffee in this aspect due to the lower acid content.
Common Milk Options
Nowadays, many of us prefer to use milk alternatives. This can be due to flavor or problems with milk, like lactose intolerance.
The most common milk alternatives are soy, oat, almond, and goat’s milk. Almond and oat have a very nutty flavor which goes well with lattes, and soy has little taste making it perfect for those who don't like their coffees too milky. Goats milk is very similar to cows milk and is a great option for those that simply can’t have cows milk but prefer the next best thing.
Price In Cafes
Cold brew coffee is almost always more expensive than hot brewed coffees when you purchase them from a coffee shop or cafe. This is because cold-brewed coffee takes more beans and longer to make than a traditional hot brew coffee, which can be made almost instantly.
Ninja Hot & Cold Brewed System Vs Keurig
Both of these machines make excellent coffee and excel in different areas. This makes it easy to choose one or the other depending on your specific needs and preferences in terms of coffee.
The Ninja is the perfect choice for people who like cold brew coffee. It has a cold brew function and a special basket recognition system which makes the whole cold brew process really simple and easy for new users.
The Keurig is the better choice for those who prefer coffees warm and whipped, like cappuccinos or lattes. It’s as simple as adding milk to the milk foamer up to the lines and pressing start.
The Ninja does have the edge for those who have less space as the frother folds away, meaning the machine has a lower profile but still has the ability to froth milk when needed. The Ninja also has the ability to hold 10 cups of coffee at once, making it an excellent option for a small workplace or large family that drinks a lot of coffee.
If you are really on the fence, here is our suggestion.
Love cold brew or need to batch make coffee often? Stick with the Ninja.
Love lattes and cappuccinos and want the easiest experience? Grab the Keurig.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
Why is the cold brew more expensive?
Cold brew is more expensive due to the need for up to 3x more beans and 8-24 hours of steeping time. This is much more than hot brew, which can be made instantly with ⅓ of the beans.
Is cold brew stronger than espresso?
This is a tricky question to answer as both drinks will have a caffeine content dependent upon the beans used. Espresso is notoriously strong but comes as a much smaller serving. In terms of flavor strength, espresso is much stronger.
Is Starbucks cold brew considered strong?
A grande size cup of cold-brewed coffee from Starbucks can contain up to 200 mg of caffeine, making it pretty strong for a single serving.
Is it okay to drink cold brew coffee every day?
Caffeine consumption should always be restricted and moderated, some people can survive with little to no caffeine, and some require huge amounts and arent affected by the side effects. We recommend no caffeine after 1 PM and limiting your coffee to 1-2 cups per day to prevent sleep interruption.
There you have it. You now know enough about cold brew and hot brew coffee to tackle that hipster coffee shop with a smile on your face. Remember, cold brew for milder flavors and less bitterness, hot brew for intense, full-bodied flavor.